Overcoming the ‘imposter syndrome’ – how to feel as good as people think you are!

Even though I understand what my mind is trying to do to me, and even though I write articles about it – this doesn’t stop me experiencing the same thing as many of the execs I work with – ‘doubting myself more than I probably should at work’.

The sense of foreboding that it’s only a matter of time before you are ‘found out’ (for not being as good as people think you are), is something I hear on a daily basis in coaching sessions, even (or perhaps particularly) in the most successful, the most high flying, and the most high achieving of my coachees.

So that’s my first point – take heart, you are not alone, it’s perfectly ‘normal’ for our minds to beat up on us – it’s not just you.

Anecdotally, it’s a tendency shared equally between the genders, although it tends to manifest differently – women seem more likely to express their ‘not being good enough’ fears, whereas their male counterparts seem more likely to try to cover it up with overdone expressions of confidence.

A few more pointers:

  • A level of insecurity strikes most of us from time to time, and can even be our friend (no-one likes a show off, some vulnerability and humility can be deeply attractive, a sign of authentic leadership and brand enhancing)
  • Watch out for and challenge organisational cultures or teams that exploit self-doubt – preying on insecurity as a negative form of engagement. This fosters fear of failure and counterproductively leads to burnout, unhealthy competition, un-collaborative behaviours and poorer results
  • If your self-doubt is more than an occasional visitor, then realise it may be chewing through your precious and finite energy reserves; that it’s something to watch out for and catch yourself doing – recognise it for what it is, acknowledge what your mind is up to and encourage it to move on

Finally, try to stop comparing what’s on your ‘insides’ (worry, self-doubt, not feeling good enough) with what you see on everyone else’s ‘outsides’ (apparent self-confidence). Judging by how many execs seem to have imposter syndrome, you can bet it’s a false comparison!